At this weekend's Dia de los Muertos workshops at the Los Angeles Children's Museum, children can learn about the Mexican holiday commemorating the dead by making their own offerings for the museum's altar.
The workshops will be conducted on a drop-in basis both days, which means that kids may stay as long as they're interested--10 minutes or two hours--with most hanging in there somewhere in between. Children can sign up as they enter the museum, then begin exploring the museum's many exhibits--keeping an ear tuned for the workshop announcements.
The Day of the Dead, which shares skull and skeleton symbols with Halloween, is celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2 and is a time when families bring offerings to the graves of loved ones and build elaborate altars decorated with flowers, fruit and other food.
The museum hasn't forgotten Halloween itself. There will be special "charming-but-not-scary" Halloween shows both days this weekend at noon and 2 p.m. in the museum's performance space. The half-hour shows are geared to very young attention spans and are conceived as beginning experiences in live theater--which means an open-ended conversation on "how to be an audience" for starters.
Parents and children in the neighborhood for workshops can continue the theme by walking a few blocks north on Main Street to Olvera Street for lunch. There you can sample the handmade tortillas at La Luz del Dia and plenty of food at other restaurants and stands, enjoy a snack of churros and see sugar skulls and wooden skeletons for sale as they are in Mexico this time of year. Casa de Souza has a good selection of authentic Dia de los Muertos decorations including many whimsical clay and paper vignettes of cavorting skeletons sure to catch children's attention.
The museum in at 310 N. Main St., downtown Los Angeles (213) 687-8801. Weekend hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $3 for both adults and children. There is underground pay parking available at the L.A. Mall and surface parking in Lot 7 at the corner of San Pedro and Temple. On weekends, there's also a chance of finding metered street parking--an impossibility on weekdays.
Pickle Family Circus--This cozy little family circus has 28 performers, no animals and a high-wire act that works a cautious eight feet off the ground. In short, a good circus for the littlest children to enjoy. The 90-minute performances include clowns, jugglers, mimes and acrobats. The tent will be set up near the carrousel on Santa Monica Pier and proceeds benefit the American Children's Theater. Performances today and Sunday at 1 and 3 p.m. (213) 394-0822. Tickets are $7 for adults, $4 for kids.
Village Street Faire--Seven blocks in Claremont Village in Claremont will be blocked off for today's lively street festival. All the browsable shops will be open and the streets will be filled with food booths, game booths, arts and crafts displays, and five stages with ongoing entertainment. Special for children: a haunted house and a face painting booth. Sponsored by Claremont Village Chamber of Commerce, the fair runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a kids' costume parade down four blocks starting at 11 a.m. (714) 624-1681.
Mask Making Workshop--You could make Halloween masks at home on the kitchen table, but think of the mess and the effort to pull together all the strings, glue, paper, beads, seeds and feathers required. This weekend's Sunday Open Sunday workshop at the Junior Arts Center offers parents and children a free-and-effortless opportunity to create masks together. Artist Carolyn Potter will lead the two-hour class, with all the supplies ready and waiting. No advance registration is necessary. 2 p.m. Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (213) 485-4474.
Babes-in-the-Woods Hike--The William O. Douglas Outdoor Classroom at Franklin Canyon Ranch pioneered the concept of introducing young children to nature through docent-led, stroller-accessible walks. Children under 3 and their parents, grandparents or other adults (older siblings may tag along) are encouraged to see, hear, smell and touch the world around them on walks paced just for them. A bonus for parents on these hikes: pointers on how to enrich family walks. Sunday at 4 p.m. Reservations required. 1736 Lake Drive, north of Beverly Hills, (213) 858-3834.
"Little Red Riding Hood"--If this classic fairy tale has always struck you as a bit too terrifying a story for young children, the folks at Glendale Center Theater insist that this is a "very mild interpretation" where the kids in the audience cheer as much for the wolf as they do for Hood. This original musical, theater-in-the-round version begins at 2 p.m. today and lasts an hour and a half. There's an intermission when snacks (mostly sodas and candy) are sold. 324 N. Orange Ave., Glendale. (818) 244-8181. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3.50 for children.